Strange English

Being a native speaker, I rarely ever questioned the English language. It wasn’t until I came to Japan and began teaching that I realised that English is STRANGE. I want to talk about some of the examples where English makes absolutely no sense.

Let’s start off simple. Prepositions (On/ In/ At)
This was where my origin

al problem came about when teaching English. Prepositions are a pretty basic starting point when learning, so it would often be a focus of some of my classes.

However when it comes to:

Ten in the morning
Five in the afternoon
Eleven at night
I’m on the bus
I’m on the train
I’m on the plane
I’m in the Taxi

Then I found myself in a position where students would ask why we do this, and all I can answer is “We just do.”

One of the other Crazy things about English is called a contronym. A contranym is a word with 2 meanings, but the meanings are opposite to each other. Here are some examples:

Dust– to add a fine powder “I Dusted my cake with sugar”
– to remove fine powder “he dusted the apartment”

Left– To remain “My mother went shopping but left me at home”
– To leave “I said goodbye and my mother left.”

Off – To deactivate “I turned my phone off”
– Is activating “My phone is going off”

One of the many grammar rules you may have heard before is “I before E except after C” which is just a way to say that in words, I always comes first, unless there is a C before it. This rhyme helps when Spelling words like “believe” “friend” and “receive”. Easy enough to remember right? WRONG because like with most English grammar, there are many exceptions “height” and “weird” just to name a couple. Merriam Webster joked that to make the rhyme accurate, you would have to say:

I before e, except after c
Or when sounded as ‘a’ as in ‘neighbor’ and ‘weigh’
Unless the ‘c’ is part of a ‘sh’ sound as in ‘glacier’
Or it appears in comparatives and superlatives like ‘fancier’
And also except when the vowels are sounded as ‘e’ as in ‘seize’
Or ‘i’ as in ‘height’
Or also in ‘-ing’ inflections ending in ‘-e’ as in ‘cueing’
Or in compound words as in ‘albeit’
Or occasionally in technical words with strong etymological links to their parent languages as in ‘cuneiform’
Or in other numerous and random exceptions such as ‘science’, ‘forfeit’, and ‘weird’.

Sadly, it doesn’t sound quite as good does it?

A strange example I’ve read about is the words “and”. It is grammatically correct to use the word “and” 5 times in a row. For Example

A man owned a store called “This And That” and hired another man to make a sign for it.
When it was finished the owner inspected the work.
He discovered that the spaces between the words were wrong so he said, “The space between This and And and And and That is different. Please fix it”

Confusing right??

What parts of English grammar is the most confusing for you?